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Royal Mysore Walks - Marketing

Strategy

Contents
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Introduction ........................................................................................................................ 3 Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning (STP) ................................................................ 4 Marketing Mix .................................................................................................................... 5 Customer and Competitor analysis ..................................................................................... 7 Internal analysis .................................................................................................................. 9 Strategy ............................................................................................................................. 10

1. Introduction
Tourism industry in India is the largest service industry contributing about 6% to the GDP and about 8.8% to the total employment in India. Tourism in India is poised for a big growth amounting to $375 billion by 2018 at an annual growth rate of 9.4%. Karnataka has been ranked as the fifth most popular destination for tourism and has the highest number of nationally protected monuments in India, at 507. Mysore is the Karnataka's second largest city. It was the erstwhile capital of the Wodeyar dynasty and is considered the cultural capital of the state. The aura of grandeur and royalty is still persist Mysore, the official capital of the erstwhile Maharajas. Every edifice stands with a palatial touch -buildings with vaulting arches and majestic domes are a common sight in Mysore. Mysore can be easily called the jewel in the crown of the Karnatakas tourism industry. Reports estimate that 22-24 lakh people visited Mysore in the year 2012 alone. The best time to visit Mysore is during Dasara (September-October). The Dasara time is one of the greatest splendour and magnificence. The entire city wears a bright new look for 10 days, bathed in light, joy and colour. Mysore is approximately 140 km from Bangalore, and there is a 4 lane highway connecting the 2 cities. The city is well connected with Bangalore, with various modes of travel available i.e. bus, trains, flight and taxis. Royal Mysore Walks is a start-up in the tourism industry catering to tours in and around Mysore. Royal Mysore Walks offers off-beat travel experiences and specialize in offering guided walking tours on various themes in and around the city of Mysore. Walking Tours is a popular concept in most tourist cities around the world where short walks are organized based on different themes and it is a great way to discover the city. Royal Mysore Walks started by Vinay Parameshwarappa, an ex-software engineer, builds on this concept of walking tours. Vinay was fascinated with this concept and got the idea of a walking tour for Mysore when he participated in a similar tour in Singapore.

Picture courtesy: Royal Mysore Walks

2. Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning (STP)


RMW operates in a very niche segment of tourism industry where the focus is more on the feel and experience that the customers get rather than the travel itself. Each product that RMW offers is targeted at a particular segment of customers. Segmentation: The customers of RMW can be broadly classified into below categories: High profile corporate visitors: This includes corporate people, both Indian and foreign nationals, typically in CXO position, from various technology companies in and around Bangalore visiting for official purpose. This segment also includes some of the foreign tourists visiting Mysore. Casual Visitors: This includes the regular tourists and IT crowd from Bangalore and nearby places choosing Mysore as a weekend destination. Close to 30% percent of the IT people preferred Mysore as their weekend destination and would recommend it to their friends. Government Institutions: Government institutions (public service, administration, schools etc) constitute for a regular stream of customers for RMW. RMW has a tie up with Administrative Training Institute (ATI, Mysore) which trains senior level government officials (IAS, IFS, Civil Services officers etc). ATI has a regular flow of people visiting the institute for training throughout the year who are sent to RMW as part of their training.

Picture courtesy: Royal Mysore Walks

Targeting: RMW targets only at the upper segment of the customer; this is evident from the premium that it charges, ranging from Rs. 500 to Rs 1,500 for a regular walk tour of 2 hours duration. Cycle tours, off-beat tours and jeep tours are priced at a much higher level. Most of these customers are typically price insensitive and some of the foreign corporate visitors are willing to pay more than $500 for a half a day of personalized tour experience.

Positioning: RMWs ability to provide an offbeat experience to its customers has helped it to position as a differentiated touring service provider. Its focus on providing the best possible experience to its customers has garnered ample positive feedback on travel sites like tripadvisor, travel.yahoo etc. With all the positive customer reviews, RMW has entered into to-do list of people who are visiting Mysore.

3. Marketing Mix
Royal Mysore Walks has been using social media primarily to reach out to its target customer and has been fairly successful in bringing the concept of walking tours to Mysore as evident by the customer feedback and citations in newspapers and social media. Product and Pricing: The concept of walking tours is still a new concept in India. While there are some tours conducted in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi and Jaipur, the awareness levels among the tourists are very low. Royal Mysore Walks was the first to introduce walking tours in Mysore. Mysore gets a lot of tourists throughout the year with the numbers peaking from October to January. Reports estimate that 22-24 lakh people visited Mysore in 2012[5]. The number of foreign tourists is still a tiny fraction with estimates at approximately 7000-10000 per month [7]. The advantage with Mysore is that there are a number of attractions in and around the city with a lot of historical and mythological background. Some of the examples include Mysore palace, Chamundi hill temple and Srirangapatna. Mysore also has a lot of rich heritage in arts and crafts like silk saris and stone carving. Royal Mysore walks as a product is focused on the niche segment of the tourists- foreign visitors and the SEC-A segment of the domestic tourists. It is very different from the immediate competition who are the tourist guides usually appointed by the government. Traditional tourist guides follow a set method and do not offer anything extra than the historical knowledge that is already available in the public domain. Also the tours are not customized and the one-size-fits-all policy is not catered as per the needs of the customers. These guides also focus only on the important landmarks and do not have knowledge about the other parts of the city. Royal Mysore Walks fills these gaps perfectly. The walking tours can be customized as per the need of the customer. The tours not only focus on the important landmarks but also offer offbeat tours to experience less known but interesting parts of the city. Above all, when you take a tour with Royal Mysore Walks, the experience is something unique and different. Royal Mysore Walks tour operators are known to use trivia and humour to engage the customers and the experience is something that cannot be copied by any traditional tourist guide. There are currently multiple tours that are organized by Royal Mysore Walks.
Tour Segment Walking Tours Tour Type Royal Walk Description Duration Price (in INR per tourist) 600

Discover the colonial connections of 2 hours Mysore

Market Walk

Night Walk Artisans Walk Vintage Mysore tour Gravity Tour Island Tour

A walk through the traditional market exploring the various 2 hours specialties like sweets, incense etc Explore Mysore at the night starting 2 hours from the palace A walk to meet the artisans focusing 2 hours on sandalwood artisans Discover Mysore on a cycle 2 hours

700 700 700 1000 1500 1500 Custom

Cycling Tours Jeep Tours

A ride down the Mysore hills 3.5 hours Explore the islands near 3.5 hours Srirangapatna Explore Srirangapatna in an open jeep or discover the Custom Mysore city at night in a jeep. a. A lot of offbeat tours are organized as well like Mysore Maharaja tour , Palaces tour , colonial Mysore tour and Dasara tour b. The arts and crafts tour focus on stone carvers and Mysore paintings. Tourists get to interact with the artisans and spend some time understanding the rich heritage and watch the artisans at work Custom c. Other offbeat tours include a Mysore silk sari tour where you get to see how a silk sari is made, the food tour where you get to experience Mysore specialty foods and the yoga tour that traces the history of Mysore style of yoga.

Offbeat Tours

Custom

Pictures courtesy: Royal Mysore Walks

It can be clearly observed from the above classification that customers have a lot of choice to pick a tour that interests them. It can be also seen that the prices for most of these tours are higher than what a regular guide would charge at Mysore palace due to the fact that these tours differentiate and add a lot more value as compared to the traditional tours. For the target customers who are foreign and high-end domestic tourists, price does not play a big role when they pick such tours. Having already spent a good amount in making the trip to Mysore,

the cost of these tours is a small fraction of their overall travel costs. Moreover, tourists are willing to pay the price for the experience that they get in Royal Mysore Walks. The current challenge is not the price but to reach out to more customers particularly in the lean seasons and weekdays Place & Promotion: Having the right product at the right place and at the right time is an essential factor of the marketing mix. Typically, Place refers to providing the product at a place which is convenient for consumers. Place decision also involves selecting the rightchannel for distribution, for getting the product to the target customers. Whereas when the offering is a service product, Place is synonymous with the location where the service is being offered or where the customers can access the Service Product. Royal Mysore Walks is such a service product which has its core business idea revolving around the importance of a Place - the heritage and history of the city of Mysore. As the concept of these tours is themed based on the monuments, history and heritage of Mysore and Srirangapatna, the customers need to visit Mysore to experience services offered by RMW. The location of Mysore has an advantage as it is in the vicinity of Bangalore City from where it attracts most visitors particularly during holidays and weekends. However, the best season of the year would be during Dasara festival, which is celebrated as the Naada-Habba (Statefestival) of Karnataka State [8]. Since RMW targets a niche educated segment of the market, it doesnt reckon advertising for its promotional activities. Public Relations and Publicity: Currently, Social media marketing is the major promotional activity that RMW is pursuing through Facebook, Twitter and Google+. In addition to this, it also maintains a blog to achieve search engine optimization, engaging and understanding the customer better, to increase the traffic to the web site and to create a trust among people which in turn helps RMW in reaching hard-to-reach customers. Events and Experiences: As one of the promotional activity, RMW is also involved in tying up with state tourism corporation and offering free walk tours to students of various government schools. Word-of-mouth: Being in a niche and high-end segment of the market, word-of mouth marketing is highly influential as people trust others they know and respect. It would also give personal facts, opinions and experiences about the tours. Word-of-mouth marketing can be online or offline. At present, Tripadvisor.com is one of the popular travel portals where numerous customer feedbacks about RMW are available. Almost all of the feedbacks describe the exclusive experience that RMW offers.

4. Customer and Competitor analysis


Customer Analysis: A description of RMWs customers has been given in Section 2. Most customers come to know of RMW either through word of mouth recommendation, social media or travel sites. A typical customer of RMW is well read and informed person who enjoy stories, trivia and unique experiences. Due to Mysores vicinity to Bangalore, it makes a good choice for weekend destination for corporate people from Bangalore.

Based on discussions with the founder, Vinay, the team was able to come up with an estimate of Rs20 lakhs as the revenue for 2012. The following pie-chart gives a break-up of the revenue by various customer segments.

Competitor Analysis: Walking tours is a new concept in Mysore and currently RMW is the only player in this virgin market. However, there are a couple of tour services which are similar or comparable to RMW. At one end, we have Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) which we can call as a low cost service provider with a broad competitive scope. On the other end, we have regular guided tours who typically targets mass. Even though the target customers of RMW and its customers dont coincide, there is a very good chance that existing guided tour operators may copy the tour model of RMW which may eat into the number of customers that RMW gets. Therefore it is necessary that RMW increase its scope of product offerings to a broad range of customers and target a new segment of customers. Competitive Competitive Advantage Advantage Low cost Broad Competitive Competitiv eScope Scope Uniqueness

KSTDC

Narrow

Guided Tours

Royal Mysore Walks

5. Internal analysis
Royal Mysore Walks with its unique innovative concept has successfully created a brand for itself. The RMW walks are an instant hit with its visitors, which is evident from the excellent reviews on tripadvisor.com. RMW delivers its walking tours customized and personalized as per the interests of the visiting enthusiasts, which helps them in driving the tour. The RMW tours are way apart from the usual guided tours and have a powerful combination of the historical knowledge and the rich experience of the walks. RMW brand image is further enhanced by the RMW ambassadors, who wear T-shirts printed with RMW logos and carry bags which depict RMW. Competitive Resources and Capabilities: The RMW guides or ambassadors as they are known, have a vast knowledge of the history and trivia about the city of Mysore and the architectural heritage. They are so well trained with excellent soft-spoken charismatic oratory skills that they strike an instant chord with the visitors, making the visitors more inquisitive about the facts and past events of an important city. The RMW content is prepared by Vinay Parameshwarappa and constantly enriched with the research and connections established from history. The RMW ambassadors themselves are history and quiz freaks who enrich the content with their individual research through the pages of history. RMW has rare collections of photographs and souvenirs from the history which are exhibited and explained to the visitors. The rich tour content and able ambassadors are the core competency of RMW.

RMWs Costs, Pricing and Competitive strengths: RMWs major costs involve some of the marketing expenses they incur in-order to popularize or spread the word about RMW. Apart from this, majority of the time of its ambassadors is spent on enriching their knowledge about history and research. These activities are important factors that help in increasing the revenues of RMW and establishing its brand. The prices charged by RMW though on the terms of premium segment customers, are rightly justified for the amount of knowledge imparted on the tour, the expert guidance about history and the experiential walk for the visitors. The prices need not be compromised or diluted as the target audience is the premium set of visitors who are enrolling to the RMW tours for an off-beat, differential experience and the pricing strategy is rightly justified.

6. Marketing Strategy
A big chunk of RMWs revenue comes from personalized tours for high-end tourists (typically foreigners). RMW charges as much as $500 per person for a half-day personalized tour. A majority of these customers are CXOs of organizations who visit Bangalore for official reasons. They then drive down to Mysore to spend a weekend. While this segment has greatly enhanced RMWs revenue, it also brings some risks. Recent global slowdown has impacted business travel and the number of foreign business travelers visiting Bangalore from other countries has slowed down. This has a huge impact on the revenue. The economic slowdown also has an impact on the general foreign tourists visiting Mysore. RMW is not interested in high-cost advertising like billboards etc. The team has identified some new segments that RMW can target: 1. Corporate team outings: Based on a survey run by the team, the team found out that a large number of respondents were very enthused by the idea of theme based corporate outings. Of late, many IT companies in Bangalore are exploring the idea of team outings in areas around Bangalore. Mysore has a huge advantage with the journey from Bangalore taking just 2-3 hours now with the improved road network. The team-members also talked to the respective internal teams that organize corporate outings and they were very excited when they heard the concept of RMW. Vinay could modify the tours to cater to a team of 50-100 people concentrating on activities like obstacle courses and treasure hunt. Places like Srirangapatna and Mysore can be an excellent location for such activities. One such tour of 50 people has the potential to generate revenue of approximately Rs50000 and RMW can use this to fill the slots in the weekdays when the normal walking tours are not much in demand. To achieve this goal, RMW can organize road shows in various offices. Many IT companies already organize such shows and this is a very cost-effective approach to reach a wide audience. This has 2 advantages: (1) Meet corporate people and sell the idea of team outings through RMW and (2) showcase RMW to the IT employees who might then want to try RMWs walking tours when they visit Bangalore. 2. Village tours: Of late, a fast catching trend among high-end domestic and foreign visitors is to experience life in an Indian village. A simple research done by the team shows that visitors are willing to spend as much as Rs25000 for a 2-3 day stay in a village. RMW can tie up with some people in villages around Mysore and organize such home-stays for the tourists. This also falls in the category of offbeat tours. RMW can probably pick villages near some historical places so that tourists can have a wonderful experience. RMW can continue to use social media and the internet to advertise such new offerings. 3. Archaeology tours: RMW can also explore the idea of conducting personalized tours to places like Belur and Halebid that are within driving distance from Mysore. A lot of foreign visitors visit Belur and Halebid but lack of services like walking tours at these places opens a new market for RMW. 4. School outings: Another good segment to target would be the high-end schools (particularly international schools) in and around Bangalore. Vinay can organize

outings for kids from such schools and this also has a great potential to generate additional revenue as well as cater to a completely new segment of people. Apart from social media, RMW can also explore the following new channels to expand its marketing activities. 1. Resorts in Mysore: A lot of high-end foreign tourists stay in exotic resorts in and around Mysore. RMW can tie-up with such resorts and offer them a commission based revenue mode. For example: In exchange of putting the RMW banner in the resort, RMW can offer $100 commission for every personalized tour referred by the resort. 2. Star hotels in Bangalore: RMW can talk to the help-desks at various start hotels in Bangalore and include RMW in the list recommended activities for their guests. Most of the foreign business tourists rely on the start hotels for travel recommendations. 3. Road shows in IT companies: As already discussed, RMW can organize road-shows in companies to target both team-outings and individual travelers